Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP)

Mediation and appeals

South Tyneside Council wants to work with you to resolve any issues you may have.

If there are any disagreements or concerns about an EHC needs assessment or plan, you should contact the SEND Officer responsible for your case.

If an agreement still cannot be reached, you can appeal to an independent body called the First Tier Tribunal for SEND.

In most cases, you will need a certificate from a mediation service to do this. You have 2 months from the date of the decision letter to either:  

  • Attend mediation
    If you decide to attend mediation, you must contact the mediation service. They will organise a meeting within 30 days and the Council must attend.
  • Decline mediation
    You must contact the mediation service and let them know that you do not want to take part.

You do not have to contact mediation if you are only appealing the name of the school / setting in Section I of the EHC Plan.

You must let your named SEN Officer at the Council know that you are going to mediation, and what the issues are.

Mediation service

Mediation is a less formal way of trying to agree the sections of the EHC Plan, where there are disagreements.

It involves a meeting between you, someone from the Council, and an independent mediator.

The mediator will try to help you reach agreement.

The service is free of charge, impartial and confidential.

See Chapel Mediation and Consultancy Services.

It is up to you if you want to use the mediation service.

Mediation certificate

After you have declined or attended mediation, you will be issued a mediation certificate within 3 days.

If you feel that mediation has not resolved the issues, and you would still like to make an appeal, you must do this within 30 days of receiving your certificate.

Mediation expenses

You can claim certain expenses from the Council connected with you and your child attending mediation.

However, you must:

  • get agreement with the Council about what expenses can be claimed before you attend
  • provide satisfactory supporting evidence / receipts of the expenses when you make a claim

First Tier SEND Tribunal

The First Tier SEND Tribunal is overseen by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service.

The tribunal hears appeals by parents / carers and young people who are in dispute with the Council about specific issues related to the EHC needs assessment and the EHC Plan.

You can appeal if the Council:

  • refuses to arrange an EHC needs assessment, when a request has been made by you, the young person, or the school / setting
  • refuses to issue an EHC Plan after completing an assessment
  • refuses to re-assess the child / young person (where the Council has not completed an EHC needs assessment in the last 6 months)
  • decides not to change the EHC Plan after an annual review, or EHC re-assessment
  • decides to stop maintaining the EHC Plan
  • has finalised the EHC Plan, and you disagree with one or all of the following:

Appealing other sections of an EHCP

As part of a national trial, extended powers have been given to the SEND Tribunal.

Tribunals can now hear appeals, and make non-binding recommendations, about the health and social care aspects of an EHC Plan, as long as the appeal includes education elements.

On 20 July 2021, the Department for Education confirmed that extended powers will continue.

For more information, see GOV.UK: SEND tribunal extended appeals.

Making an appeal to the First Tier SEND Tribunal

If you would like to make an appeal to the First Tier SEND Tribunal, you must lodge your appeal:

  • within 2 months of the Council's decision, or
  • within 1 month of receiving your mediation certificate.

You must provide:

  • a copy of the decision you are appealing against, and
  • the mediation certification (if you are only appealing Section I of the EHCP, you do not need to provide a mediation certificate).

You will get a notification that your appeal has been logged, and a date for the tribunal hearing.

The tribunal hearing

All parties will be asked to provide evidence.

At the hearing there will be a judge and a panel of tribunal members.

They will look at the evidence to decide on the elements that you have appealed about.

They will write to you within 10 working days to give you a decision, and explain why the decision has been made.

To find out more about SEND tribunals, see GOV.UK: How to appeal a special educational needs sen decision.

For independent support and advice about making an appeal, contact SENDIASS.